Another NaNo win

I mentioned back on November 18th that I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo this month with the follow up to The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, The Serial Dieter’s Shopping List, with Donna and the helm this time. It’s lovely being back with her, Izzy, William and Duncan.

Set a year later, we start at Northampton but Donna’s then seconded to the sister paper at Hemel Hempstead and stays with her mum in Tring (both Hertfordshire) so we meet a new set of characters dipping back to Northampton at the weekends.

I’ve cracked the NaNoWriMo 50,000 minimum with 52,795, although the widget counter is a tad more generous at 53,088, not sure why but I’m not complaining.

If you’d like to read my writing and be willing to give me feedback on it – being as brutal as you like but constructively please(!), do take a look at my shout out for …Beta Readers.

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Another productive week

Hello everyone. In the past I’ve talked very little about what I do but given that I’m now taking my writing more seriously, I thought I’d share my news with you. Yay. 🙂

I’ve started NaNoWriMo (for the umpteenth time) this month with the follow up to The Serial Dater’s Shopping List*, The Serial Dieter’s Shopping List, with Izzy’s sidekick, Donna, at the helm, and set in Hemel Hempstead and Tring (Hertfordshire) rather than Northampton, although Izzy, Hunky Dunky and other characters will make an re-appearance in this one.

By the way, if you’ve read this first novel, I’d be really grateful if you left a review on Amazon, Goodreads and / or wherever you purchased it. Thank you! Reviews can be make or… er, ticking along for authors.

I’m also writing a couple of standalone psychological thrillers, and another women’s novel, so will be cracking on with those, and hopefully the mix will keep my word count respectable. As of day 2, I’m a bit behind but am planning on catching up over the weekend.

If you’d like to be a Beta Reader for any of these, please sign up. Again, you will have my heartfelt gratitude… and a mention in the relevant acknowledgements.

My latest little (150-word) ditty called ‘Feeding Time’ (see below) has been longlisted on https://adhocfiction.com/read/#FlashEbook and you can vote for it (if you like it) – click until you get to ‘6 more’. If you like it – I hope you do – please click on ‘Vote’. Voting closes midnight 13th/14th November. Thank you!

Speaking of flash fiction, the new rounds of my 100-word comp and BeaconLit’s 500-word competition are open.

I’m on schedule with my client Editing and Critique: one novel sent back yesterday (a day early) and three more booked in, taking me up to 7th December.

On a more personal level, but still writing related, I’ve had two new bookings in: Carlsberg Christmas Fair (mid December) and a talk to Barclaycard Pensioners Club (next July). Woo hoo! Oh, and I’ve got the date for my 15-minute audition with Bedfordshire Women’s Institute for next February. They’ll all be here before we know it.

I’ve updated my Morgen With An ‘E’ page with all these events and more: judging the Flash 500 short story competition (February), a local W.I. panel, and a talk about podcasting at Troubador Self-publishing Conference (both April) BeaconLit Literary Festival (workshops and panels) and a talk to Barclaycard Pensioners Club (both July).

So, all in all, it’s keeping me out of mischief… if only! 🙂

Why readers are so important

What is a writer… or more appropriately, a published author without readers? Not nothing, because we can still write for pleasure, but most of us put work out there to be read, not to make lots of money… although that would be nice.

I’m prompted to write this following a wonderful email I received today:

“Is there a follow up to The Serial Dater’s Shopping List? It just ended too fast. I spent all this time getting thru izzys adventures and it was just like you, said okay i reached my word quota gotta STOP now.”

I loved it. My book is just over 100,000 words so no mean feat getting to the end too fast. Some, especially those on Amazon.com didn’t get that far, which makes me really sad as an author.

So if you’ve read a book you’ve enjoyed, especially if it’s mine (you can click on the picture to find out more about this one!), please do leave a review wherever you bought it, and on Goodreads (I have over six times more reviews there than on Amazon – the latest is below), and if you could spare the time to drop the author an email, it really would mean the world to them.

My latest review on Goodreads (as of 8th October)…

“31 days – 31 dates truly sounds exhausting, confusing and exhilarating at the same time. “The Serial Dater’s Shopping List” was a great, lighthearted summer time read. Having done my fair share on online dating I thought I would truly enjoy this book and I was right. Some of Izzy’s dates reminded me of my own which had me laughing and all of her dates had me reconsidering doing online dating again.

I do have to admit that the ending was a little frustrating for me. I felt like while some things were resolved there needed to be a little more context there before ending the story. Too much is left up to the reader’s imagination, which while some like that I do not. In addition, I knew before starting this book that it was a UK title and therefore would reference many British things. However, I was not expecting to be so confused at times but the slang terms Izzy used. All in all though I truly enjoyed this book. Not something that kept me up at night wanting me to read, but it was enjoyable. I received my copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.” Thank you, Tiffany!

Six pm Short Story review no.3 – The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Hello everyone. You may have been expecting the writing prompts around now but they’ve moved to 8am every weekday rather than 6pm. This is to make way for the new daily (ish) slot of the ‘Six pm Short Story’. My day job is editing and critique so I don’t read as much for pleasure as I should. I have therefore set my self the challenge (which I first mentioned on Saturday) to read a story (short story or novella) every day… or at least as often as I can. It doesn’t sound like much but I also plan to up my 1,000 words to the 1,667-word average for NaNoWriMo next month. So I figured if I put it in black and white then I’m more likely to achieve it.

Speaking of black and white, I started with Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s three-story collection ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper‘, working backwards from the third story: Old Water (see Monday’s review) then the middle story: The Rocking Chair (or rather The Rocking-Chair to give its official title) yesterday.

The title story stars with.the first-person narrator and we soon learn she is a tortured soul and how no one around her believes there’s anything wrong. I love inanimate characters and it’s fascinating how much  influence a house has on her.

With her husband away much of the time, the narrator keeps herself to the top-floor nursery, which though light and airy, she finds creepy, as would the reader. The views from the house are so inviting yet she doesn’t leave, nor does her husband want her to do so.

Strip away the flowery writing (and proliferation of exclamation marks) and you have a great story. It could have done with a good edit including the correction of any more to anymore when relating to time rather than quantity. Also, had I been the original editor, I would have suggested name changes as there are only five names mentioned and four of those begin with J: John, Julia, Jennie and Jane. The narrator isn’t mentioned, the other is Cousin Henry.

So for the story: an okay read rated 3/5. And the collection as a whole? Strange. I love strange but this was hard work strange. Interesting reading but not enough to bond me to the author, which is a shame. So an overal 2/5.

Six pm Short Story no.1 – Old Water by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Hello everyone. You may have been expecting the writing prompts around now but they’ve moved to 8am every weekday rather than 6pm. This is to make way for the new daily (ish) slot of the ‘Six pm Short Story’. My day job is editing and critique so I don’t read as much for pleasure as I should. I have therefore set my self the challenge (which I first mentioned on Saturday) to read a story (short story or novella) every day… or at least as often as I can. It doesn’t sound like much but I also plan to up my 1,000 words to the 1,667-word average for NaNoWriMo next month. So I figured if I put it in black and white then I’m more likely to achieve it.

Speaking of black and white, I’ve started with Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s three-story collection ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper‘, working backwards from the third story: Old Water.

At a mere twelve and a half 1/4 A4 (A7) pages, it starts with a quite ‘dark and stormy night’ description and three exclamation marked words in the first paragraph of dialogue… four !s in the first two paragraphs… seven on the first page and five on page two. Rather than read on, it became a ‘Where’s the !’? and the results were:

Page 1 = 7; 2=5; 3=5 (in the same para); 4=2; 5=3; 6=7; 7=2; 8=2; 9=6; 10=8; 11=3; 12=18!; and on the final half page there were 8!

And yes, it bogged down the writing so I was less enthused to read the story but I did and my, does Charlotte love her adverbs. (Page 1, second para: Slowly across the open gold came a still canoem sent swiftly and smoothly on by well-accustomed arms.)

Although it’s not erotic in the slightest, it did remind me of Fifty Shades and considering how famous The Yellow Wallpaper is, I’m surprised that this gushy story has been chosen for this tiny collection.

From a technical point of view, the story switches (mid-scene) from the inital main character, Mrs Osgood, to her daughter Ellen… and back… several times. I skim read from about page three onwards, not good for a story of around 2,000 words. There were no section breaks (blank line then left-justified first paragraph) when there was a gap in time (there were several). Although the story was first published in 1911, the language is Austenesque, who died almost a century earlier. Far too flowery for my liking, Old Water, may appeal to historical fans but it only gets one star from me.

Six pm Short Story review no.2 – The Rocking Chair by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Hello everyone. You may have been expecting the writing prompts around now but they’ve moved to 8am every weekday rather than 6pm. This is to make way for the new daily (ish) slot of the ‘Six pm Short Story’. My day job is editing and critique so I don’t read as much for pleasure as I should. I have therefore set my self the challenge (which I first mentioned on Saturday) to read a story (short story or novella) every day… or at least as often as I can. It doesn’t sound like much but I also plan to up my 1,000 words to the 1,667-word average for NaNoWriMo next month. So I figured if I put it in black and white then I’m more likely to achieve it.

Speaking of black and white, I started with Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s three-story collection ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper‘, working backwards from the third story: Old Water (see yesterday’s review).

Today is the middle story: The Rocking Chair (or rather The Rocking-Chair to give its official title).

Like Old Water, this story stars with description but it is much less flowery and we’re soon pulled into the lives of the narrator Maurice and his friend and colleague Hal. With sinister goings on, their friendship is tested in this short intense story. Althoughthe premise of the story (the elusive girl) is obvious, it’s the journey that captivates. Like yesterday, I was looking forward to the end but to see the conclusion not because I wasn’t enjoying it. The manipulation of the friendship was a triangle in more ways than one. A recommended 4/5 read.

Morgen’s Free 100-word competitions is now open for September!

*** PLEASE check your word count (100 words exactly – no more, no less – EXcluding title) and do submit more than one story to give yourself a better chance of being placed. ***

Hello everyone. Yes, August’s competition is closed, with the results due to be announced on (or before) Saturday 15th September. The theme for September is ‘complex’ which you can submit any time until Sunday 30th September (midnight UK time).

And remember, you can send up to three stories per month (individually or at the same time). It’s worth doing because some people have missed out because of errors (usually not 100 words exactly) in the only entry they send so they are immediately disqualified. This happens almost every month. <sigh>

There are lots of rules so please read the 100-word competition page carefully but the two most important are:

  1. Your story must stick to the theme (which varies each month).
  2. Your story must be no longer or no shorter than 100 words. This excludes the title which can be as long or as short as you like. Any stories of less than or greater than 100 words will be disqualified so please check before submitting. Hyphenated words (e.g. well-known) count as one word so 99-word stories because of a hyphenated word will be disqualified. This may sound harsh but it’s then fair on everyone. Also bullet points do not count as words so do not include them in your word count. Neither do ellipses (e.g. ‘and… we’ counts as two words), ages, e.g. ‘a two-year-old child’ also counts as one word (according to Word, which is what I use).
  3. You can send up to three stories per month.
  4. Please don’t submit your story / stories (or a variation of them) elsewhere until the results are announced. I score them as they come in (to longlist them then go through them again when the comp closes) so I don’t want to then be told that you need to withdraw the story because someone else wants it. The most you’d have to wait is six weeks (the competition month plus two weeks max. to the results being announced mid-month).  Thank you.

And the prizes?

Good luck and I look forward to reading your stories.